The work Jon Porras creates as one half of Barn Owl has a way of suggesting elements of doom metal and dark sludgy fare without ever stepping too explicitly into those realms. All of the subhuman angst and white-knuckled dread that come to life via guitars, crashing drums, or even caustic noise textures in the hands of other bands are relayed in the form of lengthy drones when Barn Owl present their sounds, and often these more ambiguous presentations result in clearer articulations of feeling. The same type of genre implications came through with the Americana-suggesting soundscapes of Porras' second solo album, 2012's Black Mesa.
However sleepy its synthesizers may sometimes seem or however distant its electronic drums might occasionally become, Light Divide thrives on an energetic restlessness. Throughout the five tracks of his short fourth solo album, Barn Owl multi-instrumentalist Jon Porras moves between wobbling drones and chromatic keyboard melodies, between deep beats and microscopic clicks, between foreboding bass yawns and comforting silvery drift with the enthusiasm of someone now plying these styles for the first time. That movement affords Light Divide an alluring phantom feeling: Just when the rhythm starts to become metronomic, it breaks apart and scatters.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. The challenge of ambient music, or hauntological music, or even psychedelic drone, is to try and keep it engaging for the listener. Light Divide, the new solo album by Jon Porras of San Franciscan duo Barn Owl, manages to do this by dropping some beautiful sounds into its intricately layered music. Throughout his solo releases and his five albums to date with Barn Owl, Porras has gradually steered away from doomy psych rock towards a more ambient, almost dub-like sound.
18th century philosopher and eminent wise-guy Immanuel Kant once said that when the value of art is to be gauged, certain factors must be taken into account (putting in lightly). Amongst various other aesthetic judgements, Kant said that true beauty is found in objects or creations that appear to be purposive without a purpose. Light Divide is one such creation.
Jon Porras — Light Divide (Thrill Jockey)Jon Porras - Apeiron from Thrill Jockey Records on Vimeo.Jon Porras works entirely in synthesizers in this second solo outing, substituting the unearthly clarity of electronic tone washes for the scratchier drones of effect-filtered guitars. Even Barn Owl’s most amorphous compositions had an organic friction to them, the heat of strings vibrating, of fingers pressing, of physical effort. Here, by contrast, a certain weightlessness lofts these slow-moving meditations forward.
Last year, Glasser's Interiors used architect Rem Koolhaas's Delirious New York as a launch pad for ideas about human relationships and the boundaries of the self. Jon Porras's new album, Light Divide, studies the building sciences on a more fundamental level, through the structure of the compositions themselves: sub-bass as foundation, other elements standing in for support beams and even light passing through. Where Interiors' imposing urban frenzy was a blur of geometrically abstract skyscrapers and brass Trump facades, Light Divide reflects a more 21st century form of placemaking.